It's an age-old question that's sent parents bananas, term after term: how do you keep an apple from going brown in a child's lunch box, and coming home sticky, smelly and uneaten?
Now, genius parents have come up with a fresh new solution — and it's excited them, and their offspring, to the very core.
The answer isn't a sprinkle of lemon juice. It isn't airtight containers, and it's not sending an orange instead.
It's a humble, find-it-anywhere, rubber band.
Cut up the apple, reassemble like a jigsaw puzzle — core included — and wrap together with a rubber band — and according to Sydney mother of three Eleanor Hill, it really works.
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"The kids love apples — they crunch bright red apples with crunchy white insides all day long, but when they started preschool, with packed lunches, the cut-up apple kept coming back home because they didn't like the brown marks," she told news.com.au.
"I got the idea from the way we store avocado, keeping the seed in and rejoining the two sides — I thought surely that could work for all fruits.
"I'd heard lemon juice also works but I'm usually out of lemons, plus isn't the cheapest way to prevent apples going brown."
Now, for Patrick 6, Harry, 4 and Anni, 2, Ms Hill slices the apple into wedges then reassembles — with the core inside to stop the middle go brown — and keeps her handiwork in place with a rubber band.
"We do this for pears too, as the only thing worse than a brown apple is a brown pear," she said.
"It works perfectly, the fruit's own acids keep it fresh — you don't even need any cling wrap or foil, just straight into a snack pot.
"Now all that comes home is the rubber band and the core for the compost."
She said another option was purchasing an apple spiraliser.
"You know you're growing up when you put 'apple spiraliser' on your next Santa list," she laughed.
"Our school canteen has one and although I'm a rookie at using it, it also keeps the apple together, and white.
"For my six-year-old I hold the apple together and just make four vertical cuts, leaving larger chunks."
Her discovery was recently embraced by mums and dads on social media, who were sick of brown fruit coming home uneaten. Ms Hill's other kitchen hack includes another tedious task — slicing grapes and cherry tomatoes for her youngest children.
"I'm conscious about choking hazard foods, and aside from the obvious nuts and popcorn, whole raw apples and whole raw carrots should be cut up for younger children as large chunks can break off when they bite and get lodged in a child's throat," she said.
"Similarly, cherry tomatoes and grapes require cutting, and our amazing preschool strictly enforces this policy, my four-year-old gave me a lecture when I popped one tiny baby grape in uncut alongside all the cut ones," she laughed.
"This onerous task can be done by placing grapes or tomatoes on a flat plate or board, placing a plate on top to hold them, and cutting horizontally through the middle."
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